As the United States and its allies debate military intervention in Syria, the nation's president, Bashar al-Assad, has warned that Syria will "defend itself against any aggression."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi struck a similar note Saturday, saying the Syrian Army "is on maximum readiness and fingers are on the trigger to confront all challenges."
Their words raise the question: what could Syria do to retaliate in the event of strikes by international forces, and who might be in range?
Edward Hunt, a senior analyst at IHS Jane's, predicts that U.S. or other forces would mount any initial attacks using weapons that can be fired from a considerable distance, such as Tomahawk cruise missiles, "to avoid anyone having to get within the range of Syrian systems."
Those attack weapons would likely be launched from vessels in the Mediterranean Sea -- where five U.S. destroyers equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles are positioned.
The Tomahawk has a range of about 1,000 miles and can be targeted with a high degree of precision, making it a very capable "stand-off" weapon, according to IHS Jane's.
So would Syria be able to reach the vessels firing such missiles?
The P-800 Oniks/Yakhont anti-ship missiles, of which Syria has at least 20, would probably be the most useful conventional weapon, said Hunt.
But the missile has a range of only 62 to 186 miles (100 to 300 kilometers), depending upon flight profile. "It is a fairly sophisticated weapon if anyone sails close to the coast," said Hunt.
Tamir Eshel, editor-in-chief of Defense Update, an online defense magazine published in Israel, wrote in 2010 that the arrival of Syria's Yakhont missile system was "a serious threat" in the Mediterranean, since it "has the capability to strike its target at supersonic speed, flying at very low level, leaving the defender much shorter time to react."
Many U.S. and European naval vessels have defense systems that can handle that, he said, but some smaller vessels may be vulnerable.
Syria also has naval fast-attack craft and anti-submarine warfare helicopters, as well as its remaining air force combat aircraft, Hunt said. These, however, would be more vulnerable if they tried to attack a U.S. or other naval vessel, he said.
Syria possesses a large number of Scuds, thought to be 500 plus, and similar surface-to-surface weapons, but these are not designed to be used against moving targets such as U.S. warships, Hunt said.
The Scuds, with a range of 186 to 435 miles (300 to 700 kilometers), could be fired instead at land-based targets in Turkey or Jordan, or could be turned toward Israel, which has recently moved part of its Iron Dome anti-missile network north toward the Syrian border, he said.
Analysts estimate that Syria may also have several dozen SS-21 and up to 100 FROG-7 short-range ballistic missiles, according to IHS Jane's.
It does not, however, have any intercontinental ballistic missiles, limiting the threat of Syrian missile strikes beyond the Middle East region.
Russia appears not to have delivered the S-300 surface-to-air missile system it has promised to Syria, Hunt noted.
The United States put pressure on Russia this summer not to fulfill the order because of concerns it would give the Syrian government a much greater ability to target American, Israeli, NATO or other aircraft that might try to strike targets on the ground in future.
Overstated air strength?
Some experts have warned that venturing into Syria's air space could be very risky for foreign air forces.
According to information from IHS Jane's and the Institute for the Study of War, Syria has scores of attack helicopters at its disposal. It also has MiG 21/25 air-to-air combat aircraft, as well as MiG 23/29 attack aircraft and SU-22/24 attack aircraft in its hangars.
But Shiraz Maher, a senior fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at Kings College London, believes that any threat of defensive action by al-Assad is "saber-rattling" -- and that the danger posed by Syria's air forces is overstated.
"We've heard a lot about the supposed sophistication of the Syrian air force systems, (but) it's not yet proven itself," he said.
He points out that Israel has attacked targets inside Syria on three occasions since its civil war began, bombing arms depots and also Syrian arms movements when it believed that ballistic missiles were being moved to Hezbollah, "and yet the Syrians were either unable or unwilling to respond."